Fiji, an archipelago in the South Pacific, is known for its turquoise waters, white-sand beaches, scuba diving, and smiling faces. We always dreamed of visiting this tropical paradise. Ready to escape the New Zealand winter, we set out for five weeks to soak in some sun.
Fiji has two main islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, with hundreds of smaller islands in between. Whether you are looking for private white sand beaches, waterfalls, or late-night parties, Fiji will surely answer the call.
Read on to learn all about planning your next trip to Fiji!
Content and photographs provided by Yana Kogan and Timon.
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Complete Fiji Travel Guide
Fiji Travel Basics
No visa is required for foreign nationals from these countries. Visas are valid for four months. All other foreign nationals are required to apply for a visa prior to travel.
Fijian is the national language. However, English is taught in schools from a young age and is wildly spoken. Some important Fijian words:
Bula – hello
Vinaka – thank you
Andra vinaka – good morning
Fijians are very welcoming and always smiling. Social gatherings are a tradition that includes nightly kava drinking. Rugby is the national sport and they are one of the best, winning the Rio 2016 Olympic Gold Medal for men’s sevens.
Food is an important part of Fijian culture. Don’t be afraid to take up an offer from a friendly local willing to share a home-cooked meal!
Best Time to Visit
The ideal time to visit is during the winter months, from June through August. Cyclone season is from February to April, so it is better to avoid Fiji during this time. However, scuba diving is best in the summer because of less wind and ocean currents.
The national currency in Fiji is the Fijian Dollar. At the time of writing (March of 2022), $1 FJD = $0.47 USD, and $1 FJD = €0.43. All prices in this article are in FJD unless stated otherwise.
The food in Fiji is delicious. Lovo is a traditional method of cooking food in an underground oven. Food is wrapped in palm leaves, topped with banana leaves, and placed on hot stones. The food is then covered with blankets and sand and cooked for several hours. Lovo normally consists of chicken, kasava, and palusami (taro leaf). It is prepared for important events and gatherings.
Due to the abundance of ocean life, fish and octopus are common staples in Fiji. Dishes are typically prepared with coconut milk, either cooked (lolo) or raw (miti). Many resorts cater to tourists with non-Fijian plates, such as burgers, fish and chips, curries, or pasta. In Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, Indian and Chinese cuisines are available.
Backpacking on a Budget
Costs in Fiji have gone up over the past few years. While the country is “backpacker” friendly, the prices don’t always match up. Visiting the most popular places, including the Yasawas and Mamanucas is becoming expensive. And many hotels/backpackers on the islands require meal plans, which can be more than double the price of a dorm bed.
It is possible to lower costs by staying in village homestays or camping. And other island groups are much less expensive. We stayed in Taveuni for a fraction of the cost.
Land transportation is cheap but boat ferries to the Yasawas can get very expensive. We moved slowly, camped, and didn’t do many excursions or diving. We spent $66 USD per day for two people.
While travel is much cheaper in Asia, Fiji still is a great place for backpacking, especially in Taveuni or island hopping the Yasawa Islands.
Typical Daily Costs
Takeaway food: $5 – $8
750ml beer: $5 – $6 at a supermarket, $10 at backpackers
750ml bottle of wine: $15+
300ml bottle of rum: $35 (buy liquor at the duty-free or before coming to Fiji!)
Breakfast: $6 – $10
Fish and chips: $10 – $15
Dinner: $15 – $20
Viti Levu has reliable and inexpensive buses and local buses run every 10 to 15 minutes. Sunbeam and Pacific are express buses between Nadi and Suva and leave often. Inter-island flights (or seaplane) are available but expensive. Boat transportation is the best way between islands but can still get expensive, especially in the Yasawas.
Most people we met doing the island hopping with the Yasawa Flyer wished they just stayed at one or two resorts (recommendations below). Instead of getting a bula package, we recommend picking one resort and purchasing return tickets with the Tavewa Seabus.
The main island of Viti Levu has plenty of accommodation options, including resorts, hostels, AirBnBs, and homestays. The best way to travel to Fiji is to explore the outer islands. Accommodation is different on each island with some remote islands consisting of only a single resort. And some islands have local villages and may offer homestays.
In the Yasawas, prices for budget camping/dorms are $50 to $160 per person. Mid-range resorts start from around $300. Many resorts require meal plans that cost an extra $70-$100 per day. Taveuni is considerably cheaper and offers self-catering.
Recommended Places to Stay in Fiji:
While it is very safe in Fiji and serious crime rarely occurs, there is a small risk of theft, especially in cheaper accommodation. As with any country, it is good to always properly secure or lock away valuables and cash.
The Best Places to Visit in Fiji
1. Viti Levu
The main island of Fiji, Viti Levu, is home to 600,000 people. Most travelers will fly into Nadi, located on the west. Nadi itself doesn’t have much to offer but is a great jumping-off point to the Yasawa and Mamanuca Islands.
Suva, an industrial city and the capital of Fiji, is located on the eastern shore of Viti Levu. A 3-hour bus ride from Nadi, Suva offers little for tourism. The Suva airport is the main airport for domestic flights and the ferry to Taveuni leaves from the wharf there.
The main attractions in Viti Levu are Natadola Beach, the Coral Coast, Cloud 9, and hiking in the Koroyanitu National Park. We really loved the Coral Coast!
2. Mamanuca Islands
It is possible to take a day trip to the Mamanuca Islands from Nadi or to stay for a few nights. The beaches are beautiful and several resorts are known for their beach parties each night.
Check out the South Sea Island, Mana Island, and Beachcomber for overnight stays. Day trips are also available to Castaway Island, where the Tom Hanks movie Castaway was filmed.
3. Yasawa Islands
Located 3-5 hours away by boat are the Yasawa Islands. The Yasawas are known for their stunning beaches. For the best beaches in the Yasawas, check out the Blue Lagoon (Nanuyi Island), Blue Lagoon Resort, Coconut Beach (near Coconut Beach Resort and Coralview Resort), Octopus Beach Resort, and Botaira Beach Resort.
Avoid White Sandy Beach Resort as it’s a nightmare for many on island-hopping trips.
While visiting the Yasawas, activities include cultural village trips, snorkeling, manta ray snorkeling, and of course, beach lounging.
Taveuni, the Garden Island, is the third-largest island in Fiji. Home to beautiful waterfalls and world-class scuba diving, Taveuni has a much more laid-back vibe than the rest of Fiji.
Getting here may be more difficult than on the other islands, but well worth the trip. Main attractions are scuba diving, snorkeling, hiking the Lavena coastal walk, hiking to the three waterfalls in Bouma, and the natural waterslide.
If you’re planning to hike the coastal walk and see Bouma, it is best to stay the night at Lavena Lodge. Very basic rooms are inexpensive and also cover entry to the coastal walk. Lavena is accessible by bus and only 10 minutes to Bouma.
That’s it – we hope you have a wonderful time exploring Fiji!
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